Monday, March 1, 2010

"Top 5 Things Wrong With New Zealand"

In the Vox Pop series we look at posts from around the web where people talk honestly about living in New Zealand.

For anyone wanting to get a feel for good old grass root opinions and issues in New Zealand you can't go far wrong by logging on to the message boards at the NZ auction site Trademe.

Here's a thread that was started on Wednesday about a topic that's always guaranteed to get a good response. It drew the usual righteous indignation and denial, some people obviously didn't understand the question and launched into what was right with NZ. However there were some who were capable of developing the theme further.

We picked up a distinct dissatisfaction with the justice system's ability to deal effectively with crime, tax payers fed up with supporting a benefits culture, concerns over child welfare issues, problems with home affordability and New Zealand still being a country that's divided on race with a lot of work to do to sort out both bigotry and racism.

Here's the opening question:

Top 5 things wrong with New Zealand

"ATTN: If you are not capable of intelligently adding to this thread, then please refrain from doing so.

1. Housing prices.
Thank you former governments of NZ for creating a situation conducive to creating over investment in the housing market, and making investment in the productive sector unappealing.

2. Cannabis Laws.
Let's direct needed resources away from tackling P, and concentrate it on tackling Cannabis. What do I hear you saying? "You can't legalize Cannabis!" "It's bad!" Let me break it down for the people who believe Cannabis should remain illegal (including cannabis dealers). There is not an army of NZer's waiting to smoke it, but don't because it's illegal. OK! People smoke it regardless of the law. Legalizing it would put Cannabis dealers out of business, free up resources to tackle P, reduce the amount of people in prison, increase tax revenue as Cannabis could then be sold commercially under the same restrictions of alcohol, and most importantly allow hemp to be grown on large scales across the country creating jobs, and allowing NZ to produce super eco-friendly hemp products for global export.

3.Maori party.
What's next? A Chinese party? An Indian party? Why not break all parties down to ethnicities and give them a fixed % of the vote!

4. NZ's unwillingness to adequately police our EEZ, which is the 5th largest in the world according to Wikipedia. Who needs a military down in Ol' New Zealand. Australia will pay for our part of the cheque. They're good like that.

5. The quality of television these days. Or am I one of the exceptions to the rule in regards to the lowest common denominator?"

(EEZ = exclusive economic zone, 200 miles out from shore around nz)"
Here are some responses from people who were able to contribute as required:

"The Justice Systems SUCKS, protects the law breakers more than the poor victims"

"NZ's animal welfare laws need changing.. big time!
So losers that abuse animals are not just 'slapped over the arse with a wet bus ticket' !"

"1)Benefit culture
2) Treaty as a founding document and psuedo constitution
3)MMP system
4)Overseas ownership of land and industry
5)Free trade agreements that kill local production
and just for good measure...
6)Letting in migrants like Afghans,Thais and Africans whose culture is totally foreign to the existing one"

"For me the top one is getting rid of "working for families" huge drain on the tax coffers. I know of people getting over $500 a week from working for families with only one parent working and only paying tax on that one income at $500 per week for one family its taking at least two working people's tax to pay that. The rest of us that have worked hard, saved our money, brought up our kids without government help are now penalised. In our day you got married, saved your money, made a concious decision as to when you could afford a family and got no outside assistance. Nowdays you are literally being paid to breed. Whilst our elderly who had none of these benefits and our geuinally sick people are getting next to nothing to live on."

"1)political corectness
2)benefit culture
3)weak prison sentencing laws
4)govt too gutless to tame housing market & make productive investments more attractive
5)too much business influence in education"

"In my opinion THE worst thing about NZ is the extremely low value we place on the lives of our children. The Justice, Police and Welfare systems are quite clearly not cutting it. Family Court make judgements/orders that are never enforced. The Police don't respond to 111 calls and Social Workers seem indifferent to keeping our children safe. Never mind how much we have to pay to buy a about protecting the new generation of NZ."
"1 victim mentality
2 crime
3 benefit dependancy
4 child abuse
5 people who cannot handle other people doing well
6 people who tune in to wiifm what is in it for me"

"1.) high crime rate, poor victim support and protection. also, poor justice system. we need tougher penalties for crimes. a life sentence should be a life sentence, not 12 years or whatever it is here.
2.) so much child abuse and neglect.
3.) military don't seem to be prepared for anything. in all honesty, what would happen if we were attacked? would we be able to fight back?
4.) agree with insanityplus about police not responding to 111 calls. called 3 times for the police, was even hung up on twice. police turned up about 3 hours later when someone down the road called them...
5.) i agree with you 100% about the maori party #1. it's sad that after all these years we still find the need to be divided."

"1. Racism and other assorted bigotry.
2. Laziness, lack of work ethic, 'half-assed is good enough' attitude.
3. Envy of anyone who is successful/rich/attractive.
4. Obsession with mindless sport at the expense of art/science etc.
5. Dumbing down of education and discouraging competition."

troughing MPs
relaxed sentencing
corrupt judges
giving addicts the benefit"

"Kyliekyliekylie's top 5 things wrong with New Zealand
*these arent in any specific order, they are the first things that pop into my head - i could go on - and its just my opinion.*
1 The average NZ person has no idea of the actual history of this country. There is no patriotism - NZ'ers consantly argue about the Treaty, one nation, land issues etc. I dont see how a country can be so unsure about its own history! Someone get it right and lets honour it!
2 Our media... one eyed, biased and gossipy, where have all the good, meaty journo's gone???
3 The Cannibus debate... Alcohol vs Cannibus... look at the stats people, look at the stats....
4 Constantly comparing ourselves to Australia.... What about Denmark?? Voted Worlds Most Happiest People!!!
5 Our Government... who's got all night??? "

"1/ pc crap = more rules so reduce govt spending = low taxes
2/ One race country = kiwi no matter what colour
3/ No acc for sporting injuries - ie get ya own insurance
4/ No petrol tax on vehicles under 1300cc
5/ Arm police and treat car conversion as grand thief auto"

"1. The pseudo-macho culture that blokes build around rugby/Ford/Holden/beer and the dopey Jackass mentality.
2. TV that is basically a commercial delivery service, punctuated occasionally by 8 minutes of irritating lowest-common-denominator programs.
3. A limp-wristed welfare system that disincentivizes the indolent from paying their own way.
4. Kiwi fixation with mediocre Kiwi music. Sure, you get the odd really good piece, but for the most part highly overrated. Kiwi acts even automatically get 4 stars in the Herald CD reviews....
5. Bad driving habits: indicating at the last minute, pulling out in front of you and crawling along, speeding up in overtaking lanes, lack of awareness of and consideration for other road users.
Bonus 6. a political system that fawns over an overindulged minority who are never content with anything."

"1. Our healthcare system going backwards towards user pays. sure it needs a shake up but privatising things isn't going to help the most vulnerable.
2. Prison sentences are not harsh enough for violent crime, you get worse time for fraud than manslaughter. Multiple sentences should also not be able to be served at the same time.
3. Not enough funding for sports other than rugby.
4. Our broadband is shite compared to the rest of the world. Time to improve our infrastructure and get up with the times.
5. The price of meat and dairy products considering we are a farming nation."
Today's posts - click here

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Killing Of Gaynor White Highlights Mental Health Issues In New Zealand

Today's Sunday Star times is carrying a story that tells how the family of Shaun Skilling, the man accused of the hammer murder of 62 year old Gaynor White, pleaded for him to be admitted to a mental health facility.

Shaun Skilling's family told told the newspaper they'd contacted the police, worried that he may kill himself. Police questioned him but said they couldn't do anything because he hadn't committed a crime.

We Begged for help
"...relatives of Shaun Skilling, 22, have revealed that they called police the day before he allegedly murdered Gaynor White, 62, at her Huntsbury home, because he had disappeared and they were concerned he was suicidal. Police found him in central Christchurch and questioned him, but let him go as he had not committed any crime, the family says. This was despite Skilling's mother, Donna Moore, saying she had laid a complaint earlier in the week alleging her son had stolen her Eftpos card and spent $1400. Donna Moore says she was told by police they were too busy investigating the disappearance of Christchurch woman Vanessa Pickering, whose body was eventually found at Godley Head."

They say that had the police and psychiatric services handled the situation properly the outcome may have been very different.

Skilling's family is said to have a history of mental health issues and he himself was a "homebake heroin addict." His father died in a car crash hours after being taken to a mental health facility by police after a violent episode. The day before Mrs White was killed Shaun told his partner that he would kill himself in the same way that his father had died.

In the preceding weeks his family had tried desperately to seek help for their son but say they were repeatedly let down by mental health services, even though they had begged for help.
"Skilling's brother, Jamie Skilling, 24, said he was disgusted mental health services had let down his family twice. "He told me he was a serious risk to himself, we said we need immediate psychiatric help, he needs to be locked up now, but they said he wasn't serious enough."

Jamie Skilling was concerned his brother would kill himself in prison.
"He doesn't want to be here any more, these drugs have completely ravaged his mind. "
Donna Moore said: "This didn't need to happen. He went for help, we took him, we begged them, they wouldn't take him."
New Zealand has a significant problem with drugs and alcohol abuse, health services struggle to cope with treating mental illnesses that either lead to, or arise from that abuse. It is more than a conicidence that the country has some of the worlds highest suicide rates and the second highest ratio of prison incarcerations in 10 comparable OECD countries.

The message we're getting is that a person in crisis has to commit a serious crime before any significant support is given, people in desperate need are let down time after time. Unfortunately in addition to the harm people inflict on themselves, innocent members of their local communities are on the receiving end of the crimes they commit. Does anyone seem to care?

The circumstances surrounding the murder of Gaynor White has remarkable similarities to the death of Diane Elizabeth White, age 53, who was battered to death in her home in Hamilton recently, also with a hammer:
"A 40 year old woman was charged with Mrs. White's murder. A neighbour told the press that the woman had fled from the Henry Rongomau Bennett Centre – a mental health facility at Waikato Hospital:

A neighbour, who asked not to be named, yesterday told the Times that she rang both the Henry Rongomau Bennett Centre – a mental health facility at Waikato Hospital – and the police before the woman's death. The murder accused had turned up at her house, was unstable and threatening to do Ms White harm, she said. Police say they visited the area but couldn't see anything amiss but found the body on their second visit. They are investigating their response.

The neighbour became worried about the alleged killer's behaviour because "I could tell she was distracted by the way she was dressed. It wasn't how she would normally look like". She rang police and the hospital again when the murder accused came back to her house from next door.

The neighbour told the Times the murder accused first came to her house yesterday morning for a cup of tea and told her she'd fled from the Henry Bennett Centre. The accused looked distressed and asked for a piece of paper to write a note.
"They have had runs-in for a long time," the neighbour said."She (the murder accused) was a good girl."
The neighbour said she watched as the murder accused walked over to Ms White's house.
A little while later, the accused left.That's when she locked her doors and rang the both the Henry Bennett Centre and police again. The body was discovered soon after..."
The Ministry of Health puts estimates of the prevalence of mental health problems amongst adult New Zealanders as follows:
  • about 3 percent of the population have severe mental health problems or disorders
  • another 5 percent of adult New Zealanders have moderate/severe mental health problems or disorders
  • another 12 percent of adult New Zealanders have mild/moderate mental health problems or disorders.
Although many people with mental disorders present to primary care services, service provision in response to their needs depends on the interest and expertise of individual practitioners. Therefore models and standards of service delivery are haphazard and inconsistent. In the current primary health care system, barriers to the provision of effective primary mental health services include:
  • cost to the GP
  • cost to the service user
  • GP confidence and competence.
In particular, the current fee-for-service funding system and service user part-charges create financial incentives for both the GP and service user to meet the user’s needs through specialist mental health care.
The provision of primary mental health services in New Zealand is predominantly GP-based. Internationally, in contrast, other professional groups such as nurses, social workers, counsellors and psychologists have an increasing role in such provision. Despite very little formal evaluation of the effectiveness of these roles, recent work suggests interventions that consistently improved outcomes for people presenting to primary health care services with depression incorporated some form of case management approach. Typically the case management role is taken on by staff other than GPs at relatively low cost.

The literature shows clear support for primary health care practitioners taking the lead role in the provision of mental health services for people with mild to moderate mental health problems. With respect to mental health services for the 3 percent of the population with severe mental health problems, however, the role of primary health care practitioners is less well defined.

In New Zealand there is a somewhat ad hoc approach to the provision of primary health care services for this group. In recent years a few ‘pilot initiatives’ have aimed at transferring the lead role in clinical service provision for people with severe mental health problems from specialist mental health services to GPs. Because these initiatives are generally locally initiated, the way in which they are funded and delivered varies considerably."          Read more here

A national Study of Psychiatric Morbidity in NZ Prisons may show evidence of that failure to provide adequate treatment and support to people with mental illnesses, it's reflected in the country's prison population:
"The results indicate a significantly higher rate of mental disorder than that in the community. This is particularly so for schizophrenia, for bipolar disorder, for major depression, for obsessive compulsive disorder and for post traumatic stress disorder. All these conditions are associated with high levels of distress and disability, especially during the acute phases of these illnesses.

The National Study also revealed that nearly 60 percent of all inmates have at least one major personality disorder.

The National Study estimates that all inmates who have a current diagnosis of schizophrenia or a related disorder and bipolar disorder will require active psychiatric treatment and of those, 135 will require inpatient treatment. The life-time and one-month prevalence for these disorders is significantly higher than in the community. Of those inmates in the acute phase of these disorders, 30.6 percent are currently receiving mental health medication."
One has to ask if many of these people only have access to and receive proper assessment and treatment after they've entered the prison system, why isn't far more being done before they get to that stage, why wait for a crime to be committed? Surely it would be lot more cost effective and better for NZ society as a whole it if were.

See also

Mental health services under the knife to save millions - Mental health services face cutbacks and closures as district health boards look to rein in funding.

Lifeline's Mensline - a service aimed directly at vulnerable men in trouble who are not good at reaching out for help has been suspended after 15 years in operation. In Australia a similar service is state funded but in NZ it is supported through charitable grants and public donations. World suicide prevention expert Annette Beautrais said " there needs to be a commitment to on-going suicide prevention funding and the loss of this service is a set back to both the suicide prevention and mental health sectors."

"Stabbing victim to leave NZ" - A stabbing victim is leaving the country and fears for his life because his attacker, who has a history of mental illness, is about to be released from prison without having done any rehabilitation programme.

"Mental Health Foundation concerned for youth" A youth mental health centre in Christchurch is to be forced to close because of a lack of funding. It served 7,000 young people a year between the ages of 10 and 25 and had to turn away 5-10 people a day because of a lack of resources. The service was described a "trailblazer and one we should be looking to preserve and replicate, not put at risk or close. Ensuring young people’s needs are met is sound investment as it can avoid worse problems and more costly interventions later on.”

A driver "suffering mental health issues" allegedly drove a car into the front entrance of a Hamilton police station injuring two police staff.

Today's posts - click here


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